With the Explorer of the Seas sailing back to New Jersey with almost 650 victims of norovirus related nausea and diarrhea, Time magazine just published the article Cruise Out of Control: The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships.

The worst outbreak is, of course, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer but the cruise line and its sister line Celebrity Cruises have the top three worst outbreaks and five of the top 13 worst outbreaks.

The passengers and crew aboard the Celebrity Mercury suffered through outbreaks on five consecutive  sailings back in 2000, including 443 sick in February 2000 and 419 in March. The Centers Norovirus Cruise Shipfor Disease Control and Prevention finally issued a rare no-sail order because the ship kept infecting the passengers and the cruise line wouldn’t stop sailing.

The overall winner of Time’s top 13 list is Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) – 396; Crown Princess (February 2012) – 363;  Ruby Princess (March 2013) – 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) – 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) – 216.

The disturbing thing about the list is that the Centers for Disease Control were unable to publish a single conclusion about where the norovirus came from. The public is left with the "blame game" of wondering whether the cruise ship food or water was contaminated, or the outbreak was caused by a sick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers and then spread because of inadequate hygiene.

  • Arno Ahrens

    We can help the Cruise Line, have look on
    www. Steripower. de perfekt Händedesinfektion
    for cruise Ships. Crystal and Silverseas are
    working alrady with Steripower Units.

  • Andy Smithers

    Having been on a ship where Norovirus was suspected. The experience of that cruise was greatly impacted even though I was not sick. Food service on the ship grinds to a stall. In the dining room we had no salt or pepper on the table, no sugar… The waiters greet you with plastic gloves. Buffet rules change too. You can’t serve you self. The staff (pardon the pun) starts barking at you that you can’t bring a drink into the buffet, or a towel. The bottom line was we were made to feel like we were vectors of a disease agent. Even boarding was effected. In port we were asked for our key card which was drenched in santizer before it was put into the card scanner by a crew member. The number of scanners used was reduced in half to facilitate (prolong) getting back on the ship. These actions may be what is needed to stop the virus from spreading. It sure does make you feel that you cruise experience is less enjoyable.

  • John Goldsmith

    Jim, Is the CDC unable to pin-point the cause through lack of resources or are they unable to release the information because of legislation or some other snafu?

  • labadee

    Wow, this is gross. I may not cruise again. Booze cruise that inside edition did that is on youtube I thought was bad. Welcome the barf cruise.


    Lisa Conway did fall ill. She said, “This was supposed to be a dream vacation, and it turned into a hell cruise. … The sick were in the hot tubs and the pools so people were getting sick that way by being near other people. They were throwing up in the hallways, the pool deck, everyone is trying to jump over it, walk through it.”

  • CDC lacks any real action or teeth

    What we are really seeing is CDC lacks any real action or teeth. Sure, they send officers to sail with a ship when they have an outbreak but so what? What is going to come of that? Nothing! The report they generate and make available to the public will list next to nothing for details about the outbreak. They do not detail anything about out the outbreak or the investigation. These details should be made available to the traveling public so we can make an informed decision as to whether to take with one line or another. I believe the reports do not list details because CDC is inept (as are the cruise lines)at determining the real cause of the outbreaks. Think about it. When was the last time you read about the exact cause or action that contributed to an outbreak? Exactly! You can’t because CDC lacks the insight or the gumption to say what the real problem is.

  • John Goldsmith

    That comment regarding the CDC, brings back my earlier comment. What is preventing the CDC from finding the source? Are they allowed to actually publish what they know?
    As for corporations, because they are what they are, they can and will control the message. It just happens to be what they do.

  • Once Was Enough

    Are you KIDDING? It’s the CREW!! First-world passengers are bringing ABOARD a virulent disease…? …That would have passed to everyone in their household, entourage, plane, and cab PRIOR to boarding if they actually had it??? Logic please! Ever noticed that NV only appears and spreads on cruise ships with 3rd World flags and crew aboard? You think 100% of these people keep tidy quarters for themselves? Or is it more likely they’d rather drink, gamble, and watch TV instead of clean and repair their filthy 6-man dorms with over-flowing toilets below decks? Once was enough for me.

  • ex-crew
  • Dom

    To the ignorant idiot.

    Have a word with yourself.. firstly nearly every cabin is only 2 persons or 1. As we the crew are told on board its you passengers who spread and cause NV as you fail to wash your hands even after using the bathroom this is why all crew members are no longer permitted to use passenger facilities during an outbreak unless for work. Its so one of you disgusting people don’t spread it among the crew.


  • Ken

    strange thing these viruses etc. wash your hands and open the toilet door the one that someone hasn’t = back to square one. don’t blame the crew. you go ashore in some of the crappiest countries on the planet.. expect to bring unwanted friends back and to share them with the everyone else.

    It’s all about surfaces that are commonly touched and there are some astoundingly simple answers.

    1. the material they are made of use Copper viruses cannot survive even for a few seconds on copper (think of all the copper coins you carry. read the dates been around for years… stick one in your mouth notice that taste? Yep that’s the one the viruses hate too.

    2. Cash machines.. you card doesn’t work so you breath on it, spit on it even lick the chip! then you put it in the machine that has rollers that thousands of cards have been through that day.. so think about what you putting back in your wallet.. Crap!

    Fact in New your it is estimated that over a kilo of cocaine is trapped on the rollers of ATM’s

    Let’s go back to cruise ships… Wash you hands and watch what you touch! including the sexy blond you don’t know where she’s been …simple.

    Oddly i found a company in the UK Luxion Technologies that has developed a copper key card or MasterCard that when tested holds ZERO bugs, they have a new form of bed linen too. the other is The NHS around Birmingham have fitted copper taps and door plates/handles with amazing results in the latest trials. we all like chrome but its the copper that’s underneath that will save us getting ill. might look a bit victorian but it polishes up a treat